OXNARD, Calif. – Before the Cowboys head into their scrimmage on Sunday afternoon, here's a handful of notes from their Saturday evening practice.
- During Friday's practice in the red zone period, Tony Romo missed Jason Witten down the middle of the field on a throw that would have been a sure touchdown. Romo faced a similar throw on Saturday, but this time he didn't miss. Romo saw no safety in the middle of the field so he had Cole Beasley and Jason Witten exchange positions, which put Beasley in the right slot and Witten on the outside. From that position Beasley beat Anthony Brown off the line and headed for the middle of the field. Romo was able to fit the ball over the top of Anthony Hitchens and far enough away from Barry Church that only Beasley could make the play. The pass was right on the money and Beasley was able to extend fully to come up with the catch and get both feet down.
- Tony Romo and Dez Bryant continue to make good things happen in the red zone. During the 7-on-7 period, it was a hard working Bryant that was able sell Josh Thomas on a hard outside move to buy him space inside. Once Bryant had Thomas off balance, he quickly sprinted across the back of the end zone behind J.J. Wilcox, who did not react well to what was happening. With Thomas and Wilcox out of position, Romo was once again able to put the ball over the top of Anthony Hitchens into the waiting hands of Bryant for a touchdown.
- I've been noticing in the offensive running game, an emphasis to get La'el Collins and Zack Martin out in space in front of the ball carriers. There were several snaps in the Run/Play Action period where Travis Frederick was able to capture the defensive tackle front side and Jason Witten was able to do the same with the defensive end. These blocks have set up Martin hooking the linebacker and Collins working on first support -- which is usually the corner. Alfred Morris has shown nice patience in allowing these blocks to develop before spilling the ball to the outside and around the corner. The finished results have been outstanding.
- Andy Jones has been the best of the undrafted receivers to make his mark in this first week of practice. Jones has shown up so well that the coaches are using him in sets with the first offense. Jones made two outstanding plays in 1-on-1 of just going to get the ball. He is a physical player off the line, as well. On one snap, he just shoved Deji Olatoye aside and ran his slant inside to finish the play. I had a member of the front office tell me that Tony Romo has so much confidence in his ability that he is not afraid to throw him the ball in any situation. Clearly high praise for the young receiver.
- With all the injuries to the defensive tackles on this squad, it has been undrafted Zach Wood that has been taking the snaps with the first defense in these practices. During the 1-on-1 portion of practice, it was the slippery Wood that was able to get a couple of nice rushes against La'el Collins. Wood was able to take advantage of Collins over setting on him and spin back to the inside for a pressure. On the next rush, it was Wood with straight quickness off the line, which caused Collins to lunge off balance and resulted in him reaching for air. Collins received a third shot at Wood and this time he was ready. Wood made the mistake of trying to take Collins down the middle and his hand placement and power were just too much for him to overcome. It is not surprising that Zach Wood has been running ahead of Rodney Coe, who hasn't been nearly as consistent with his effort and finish as the coaches would like.